Tuesday, April 05, 2005

INDEXITUS: Can't find my ancestor anywhere

RE: message board posting: http://boards.ancestry.com/mbexec/message/an/topics.methods.dearmyrtle/2054

From: Gordon Williams
I have my father's birth certificate and he has an unusual middle name which is Brighton. With this in mind I cannot find any entries for his death in 1979 and although I have his birth certificate, registered in 1915 in the sub-district of St. Mary's Birmingham. I got a "no matches found" when I searched the births, deaths, & marriages records. Can anyone explain to me why it is that I can enter so much information about the birth of my father off his birth certificate and yet the records on this site cannot find any entry for him?

From: Ron Mesnard
DearMYRTLE and Gordon,
My grandmother died in Florida on vacation and is listed as dying where she lived. Forget the middle name that might be your only problem. Check the SS death index for the country [US] for the 1979. If he is not there try other years. Once you know where and when he died and what his name was then you can start researching using the official name/place and date.

DearGORDO and RON,
HELP! We need a little more information:
-- Gordon didn't specify the "site" he was using unsuccessfully to find the "births, deaths & marriages"
-- Gordon, is Birmingham in England or in Alabama?

THANKS to Ron for providing these clues which apply to any database or index book:
-- "Forget middle name"
-- Forget specific locality, and try for a broader search, i.e.. "all country"

TO THIS, ol' Myrt here might add:
-- Try at least 20 alternate spellings of the surname.
-- Try combinations of first only, or middle only with those 20 alternate spellings.
-- It's possible that the database you are searching is "in progress" and therefore not complete.
-- Some databases do not list events that occurred within the past 75 years because of that state/country's requirements with respect to "right to privacy."

NOTE: I recall that the old microfiche "PARISH & VITAL RECORDS LIST" identified the records that had been extracted through the double-blind entry Name Extraction Program (by LDS & volunteers). In one column a "%" indicated the estimate on the part of the extractors regarding the percent of unreadable entries. This could be due to damaged pages or undecipherable handwriting in the original manuscript.

I should mention that if you try to use flowery SCRIPT to write out the name of an ancestor, you can see that a capital "H" could be a interpreted as a capital "R" which puts the surname in an entirely different place in a database or index.

Might I add my own definition:

  • The state of being frustrated by the use of indexes or compiled databases. Usually associated with headaches, pain in the backside, heavy sighs, and groans. In extreme cases, the victim of indexitus may burst out in tears, normally associated with wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Typically experienced by frustrated genealogists.
  • The cure is to repeat this mantra until symptoms subside:
    "Indexes aren't perfect -- look at the original."
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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